Sheena Graham, Connecticut’s 2019 Teacher of the Year, had always found joy in teaching and, prior to the pandemic, planned to teach for another five to ten years. Instead she retired early this January—one of many teachers being forced out due to burnout, stress, and a lack of respect for teachers.
In this episode of Two T’s in a Pod, CEA President Kate Dias and Vice President Joslyn DeLancey talk to the Bridgeport music teacher about what more can be done to support and sustain teachers so they can choose to stay in the classroom.
“Pandemic stress was the final straw,” Graham says. “It magnified all the ‘mini pandemics’ that were brewing beneath the surface, and it made them impossible to ignore. It was more than a little demoralizing to have people see the fight by educators to keep schools safe as something separate from keeping students safe. Educators touch every other profession out there, but somehow we continue to be undervalued.”
“We know massive staff shortages are leaving educators increasingly burned out, and myriad other factors are contributing to teachers’ stress,” says CEA President Kate Dias. “We’re tackling these at the bargaining table, at board of education meetings, through legislative and public awareness campaigns, and by every other means at our disposal.”
The Hartford Courant featured Graham in a frontpage article this weekend about the burnout teachers are facing.
Listen to the full podcast episode below, or wherever you get your podcasts.